When Paul Timm, president of Reta Security spoke before the Joliet Township High School District 204 board of education Tuesday, he was not expecting his recommendation be met with such resistance.
"The security risks don’t justify the movement towards Friday night games," he told trustees."Friday night games would bring a significant number of attendees who are not interested in athletic events; They are interested in a social event.
"There would be drinking and drug issues and gang issues. There is just no other way to say it."
Board member Paige Vanderhyden questioned Timm's recommendation, asking if he lived in Joliet and if he had ever been to a football game in Joliet.
“I think a lot of your opinion tonight is more of a personal opinion,” she said.
He responded telling her that while he did not personally walk the property, he was reporting on behalf of his firm and he had no stake in the board's decision.
“I thought I was clear on sound risk management principals,” he said.
Reva Security was one piece of a larger puzzle that JTHS administration has pieced together in analysing whether or not a return to Friday night football was feasible in Joliet. The debate began in September when board members first visited the issue.
Board members all agreed that there are some physical limitations to Friday night football, especially at Central campus, which has never hosted a night game.
Among the issues are cost to have Friday night games, fencing, lighting and manpower. Friday night games require six deans, 12 police officers and six crowd control personnel, whereas Saturday games require eight security officers, four deans, two to four police officers and two crowd control people, Chris Olsen, a committee member and the district's director of activities and athletics said at the September meeting. The difference in price is $12,600 for games held Friday night at West and Central vs. $5,200 for both schools on a Saturday.
The district had to pull the plug on night games in 2008, when a series of fights at games prompted the Joliet Police Department to tell the district it would no longer provide security for games unless they were moved to Saturdays.
But board members would like to see at least some Friday night games in the district, although they have limited the discussion to varsity games only.
"I’m not making a decision on what you are going to do," Timm told board members. "Can (the district) have good, safe football games on Friday night? Of course you can; But from a risk management perspective, you are taking on a great risk."
Board member Thomas Streitz also questioned the validity of the recommendation. He really wanted to see the district do more research.
“I want Friday night football if its possible or feasible,” he said.
Board members directed assistant superintendent Rich Pagliaro to look into the costs of all the physical challenges to both campuses and to look into what other area districts did when they wanted to return to Friday night football after stopping it. Pagliaro will bring back the info to the board in a future meeting.
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